If there is anything to be said for Kieran Hebden AKA Four Tet, it’s that he likes to keep people guessing. Jumping from chilled out electronica on earlier albums such as Dialogue and Rounds, to the hyper-house vibes of breakthrough Everything Ecstatic, Hebden has made himself impossible to pigeon hole. Continuing on with this diversity is eighth studio album Morning/Evening, unusually made up of two, twenty minute-long tracks – ‘Morning Side’ and ‘Evening Side‘.
The former, ‘Morning Side’, opens with thumping, electronic beats but shortly after the minute-mark we are presented with the vocals of Hindi singer Lata Mangeshkar; a startling delivery that proves to be a jolt to the system. Four Tet is well-known for his use of vocal samples – cutting and pasting voices in to his tracks – but his own music almost fades in to the background and Lata’s voice is given prominence. This is continued well into eight minutes until the vocal is broken up and faded out, making way for more classic Four Tet material with plenty of programmed drums and synths. While it feels like an entirely new track, Lata’s distinct vocal is introduced again but this time chopped-up and mixed in with the music, perfectly bringing the whole track together.
While ‘Morning Side’ fades out in a dream-like sequence, ‘Evening Side’ begins with a sense of immediacy which quickly fades in to more other-worldly sounds and angelic female vocals; Hebden going back to his roots with his brand of chilled-out, transcendent music. ‘Evening’ quickly fades out in a twinkling haze, but it’s not over yet. Heavy drumming and urgent beats are brought in, hinting at the hedonism and decadence that might be found if Four Tet extended to a ‘Night Side’.
Although a two track album seems brave, almost arrogant perhaps, Four Tet tells such a clear story with it that it’s hard not to remain transfixed. He takes us on a journey without drawing it out, so the listener doesn’t lose interest. It’s possible Hebden has drwan inspiration from his Indian heritage here – it’s a spiritual and personal record and gives us a better understanding of Four Tet’s thought process like no other release to date.